Sunday, November 30, 2008

Zico Coconut Water

The first time I had coconut water I was amazed that it was so different than coconut milk; it is literally as different as water is to milk. All the fat and creaminess associated with coconut milk is like cream being associated with skim milk. Among the benefits of drinking coconut water are all the nutrients like potassium and electrolytes, without any fat.

I tried Zico, a pure coconut water from Brazil, today and I love it for its' taste, its' purity (no added sugar or fat) and the container, which is a compact paper carton with a foil pull top. You can literally take it anywhere. It is being marketed as a sport drink alternative since it is loaded with five essential electrolytes, more potassium than a banana, low acidity, no fat, no sugar added, and no cholesterol. Because it is 100% pure coconut water, it is very light and has only the flavor of coconut, but no sweet taste, so Zico has several fruit juice blends for those who want more zest. It's sold online and in various retail & yoga studios, but I found the best price ($1.49) was at Smart & Final.

It's not quite the same as drinking it out of an actual coconut, freshly taken off a tree (truly the best way to drink coconut water), but if you close your eyes and drink, you will get a taste of Brazil to tide you over until you can get to the source.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Crepes & Champagne in Manhattan Beach

Sometimes when good things in life are combined, great things are created; a creperie which serves wines and champagnes by the beach is one of those great things. There is of course the Cafe Crepe in Santa Monica, right on Third Street Promenade (see earlier post), but if you are in Manhattan Beach, there is La Creperie Cafe.

Service was a bit slow, but when we heard that several people did not show up for work the day after Thanksgiving, we felt extremely well served by the one waitress handling the entire restaurant by herself! The manager said that those who did not show up would be replaced, so hopefully the new hires will show up for the upcoming holidays.

The food was very good; from the tasty French Onion soup to the fabulous merguez sausage sandwich with harissa, served with a side salad and wonderfully garlicky french fries, everything was well presented and prepared. The bonus here are the Lavazza coffees and the wine list, both of which provide a variety of choices in quality at very reasonable prices. Lunch for two came in under $35 with drinks and tip; that in and of itself is a rarity in Manhattan Beach in the heart of the boutique/pier area.

The decor is very ecletic and fun, with red walls and fanciful seat covers, this place is definitely comfortable and fun. This is the perfect spot for breakfast, lunch, a nice afternoon snack, or a late night date of drinks and dessert at the beach. Hmmm, I think I'll have a glass of Champagne with a nice cinnamon sugar crepe on my next visit-a good combo for anytime of day or night!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Free Music From Oprah

This Thanksgiving I want to thank all of you who read and follow this blog; I am very grateful for all of you and for your continued interest in my posts.

Today's post is very short so I can head over to spend Thanksgiving with my family of friends. For anyone who missed the show or lost the link, here is some free holiday music from Oprah which you can download and copy onto a CD or MP3 player (it's only available until November 28, 2008, so download it today).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Costa Rican Free Massage

I have friends who love the adventure of going to Costa Rica (can you say eco-tourism?), but since my idea of camping is no room service, I have hesitated to go and stay in treetop or rustic mountain cabin accommodations. There is an alternative at the Guanacaste Resort, for everyone going to Costa Rica looking for an adventure with American amenities, this is the place to land. The 25,000 square foot free flowing pool with private alcoves is reason enough to visit, but add on the 23 treatment room spa and 18 hole golf course adjoining the property, and you have something for everyone. It's also a JW Marriott resort, so if you are a member of the system, you get points for your stay that count toward future visits to other properties.

With promo code CNP, your stay is only $249 a night (a 40% discount), includes a deluxe oceanfront room for two, and a complimentary one hour Swedish massage for two. The offer is good from December 1, 2008-December 18, 2009 with a 3 night minimum stay and certain holiday blackout periods.

Maybe it is time for a visit to a rich coastal resort that doesn't cost realms of money.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pandora's Box of Music

How would you like your own free personalized internet radio station? Pandora's Box does that with very simple questions, like what artist or song do you like? Once you type in your response, the system will automatically find similar song qualities and allow you to select what you want played on your new station!

Pandora's box grew out of the Music Genome Project®. The project analyzed 400 distinct musical qualities to capture the musical identity of of song and help define why listeners may like certain characteristics. This project was started by musicians and those who love music, (about 70% of the 60,000 artists currently featured on Pandora are independent musicians) and they continue to enhance and evolve as they add new music of every genre to the project.

It is like Apple's new Genius application for your iTunes library or your iPod; Genius figures out what you like to listen to and then suggests songs for you to purchase. The twist at Pandora's Box is that you create your internet station for free! If you have a mobile phone on either the AT&T (the application is included on the iPhone) or Sprint network, you can even listen to your internet station on your phone!

The name Pandora means "all gifted" in Greek and that seems to be a fitting name for a service which provides the gift of free music from talented independent musicians to us all.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Office Spaces with Childcare

If you work part-time out of a rented or shared office space, and you pay for childcare while you are at work, you might want to make your life a little easier (and less expensive) with the Cubes and Crayons solution.

Cubes and crayons was created by a new Mom (who else?) who wanted to spend as much time as possible with her new child with as little distance as possible between her work and her childcare facility. It's the next best thing to working from home; all the offices have built in WiFi access, a conference room, lounge, and library of business resources; all the childcare facilities are in the same building, with art, reading, games, and a host of other activities for the kids. The cost of $600 a month for 40 hours of use includes both the office space and childcare, so you save hundreds of dollars a month, not to mention saving your time and peace of mind.

So far they only have one campus open at Menlo Park, in Northern California, but they are opening one in San Francisco, and another in Boston, so if you want one in your area, contact them.

Growing a business while enjoying your children's growth is a combination worth supporting.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Free Book Swap

If you are still reading paper books, i.e. you haven't bought your Kindle yet, how about swapping out the ones you have read for some ones you want to read? What if you could swap out your books for the cost of postage?

There is a free service called Paperback Book Swap which coordinates the exchange; members pay for postage (the cost is about $2.25 to ship one regular sized/weighted paperback) to ship the books to other members, but remember that when you receive your books, you pay nothing, so this is truly an even swap. It works a bit like a book version of Ebay, but without the bidding process; swappers simply ask for the books they want and those who have them ship them out, so everyone is both a buyer and seller at the same time. The only restrictions are that you must be over 18 years old, not incarcerated, and have a valid email address and USPS shipping address in the Continental US.

There is a handy postage label link on the site so you can simply drop your book off at a mailbox if it weighs less than 13 ounces. You are not limited to paperbacks; you can swap audio books, DVDs, and video games using the same system. They will even give you 2 free credits (each credit is equal to one book) when you sign up.

Swapping your books and CDs for free won't last long (will paper books and CDs still be here in 10 years?), so take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy our old fashioned ways while we make the transition into electronic medias.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


One of my friends sent me to Youniverse and I had so much fun on the site that I had to share it here. The site uses something they call visual DNA to define what type of personality you are based on your choice of pictures. Instead of a written response to a question, you pick a picture that represents what you most closely feels matches your response. There are some blank/gray pictures in the choices so that if none of the pictures are close, you may chose the blank choice. I found the results very accurate and the whole process was fun; who would not like picking their favorite activities, movies, and art from an array of interesting photos? The results also show how your choices compared percentage wise to others.

The site seems to be a completely free social networking type site with a different twist for getting people to "meet" with similar or compatible styles, tastes, and personalities. You can try it as a guest here to see what it's like, then go to my group, so that you can see my results.

Try it, you may like it!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Freebie Friday

It is nice to find freebies in times when airlines are charging for checked bags and restaurants are charging for delivery. But there are services which are truly free, with no obligation to prepay and get reimbursed, or worse yet, sign up and require a cancellation to stop lifelong charges to an account (as anyone who has ever signed up for a gym membership already knows). Finding the truly free services requires some work, but isn't that why you read my blog?

For free credit reports that don't require you to put in a credit card number and then cancel, go to this consumer site set up by the government to provide data from all three major agencies; the only restriction is that you can only do it once a year and they charge to give you a FICO score. The reports are very helpful in determining whether or not you want to get more information or update ancient history (one of my reports had me still living with my ex-husband whom I divorced over ten years ago!).

Suze Orman is famous as the financial guru who had invaluable advice in these uncertain times. She is an avid supporter of same sex marriages (as am I), so she has made her Will & Trust kit FREE to the LGBT friendly readers of The Advocate. All you do is click into either the Advocate site or her own site and choose the Will & Trust kit, then enter in the promo code ADVOCATE under the orange promo/gift code. You fill out the forms online, then take them to a notary public or witnesses to complete the process. All for free because Suze believes same sex couples should have the the same protections as different sex couples. Hooray to Suze for putting her money literally where her beliefs lie!

It is always a bonus to get free WiFi service, expecially when you are traveling or waiting in public places like airports, so the service at WiFi Free Spot helps you find the free spots around town, from local businesses to public places (like parks and libraries). They also have a great information page which explains (and warns) about usage of passwords in ANY public place, so feel free to surf the net, but don't do your banking in the park or airport. The same rules apply online or offline; don't share any personal financial or private information in anyplace where strangers may overhear (or oversee) you.

Always use your common sense for any service you use, whether it is free or paid, so DO NOT check your credit report or fill out your will at a free hotspot; freebies are good, but like chemicals, it is not always a good idea to combine them!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Preview Your Hotel

Ever wonder what it's really like to stay in the hotel where you are planning a trip? Short of a personal recommendation or a previous stay at the property, the only way you can see what is in store is to go to either the hotel website or a travel website; but the pictures that are posted may be as old as the day they broke ground for the building, and you have no idea of the spacial relationship between the photos (is the bathroom one foot or five feet from your bed?).

There is a video site called TV Trip which has up to date videos of hotels around the world; from the exteriors to the bathrooms, all the videos give you a real sense of the space and aesthetics of everything from the lobby to the rooms and views. It is as if you sent out a scout to film the property for your approval. You can choose different parameters for your search, ranging from the region to recent deals. I checked out a few places in Paris on their site that I know and the videos do give accurate views of everything including the exteriors, the lobbies, the sleeping areas, the bathrooms, and the artwork in the rooms.

If movie previews are a good way to decide if you want to go see a movie, then hotel previews are a good way to decide if you want to spend your time and money in an hotel.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Divine Design

Everyone knows the best time to shop for gifts is weeks before the holiday crunch, yet no one wants to solider through the crowds the Friday after Thanksgiving, so what is the solution?

How about shopping the week after Thanksgiving for designer items at 50-90% off retail while helping Project Angel Food provide meals for the ill and homebound? Divine Design is an event that takes place yearly to meet the needs of both holiday shoppers and conscientious citizens. This year it will be held December 4-8 from 11am-8pm at the former Robinson's-May store at 9900 Wilshire Blvd, in Beverly Hills.

You can hobnob with celebrities before the opening if you purchase the VIP tickets for $375, or just go online and get a ticket for a $15 door entry. Either way you will get access to designer items from Smashbox, Nanette Lepore, Theory, and Tadashi Shoji for prices that you won't see elsewhere.

There is also a drawing for a new Prius, so you never know what you could end up with simply by doing something good for your friends, family, and community.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Once Upon A Wish

The news has been so sad lately; between the burning fires here, and the chilling financial climate worldwide, I wanted today's post to be about two heartwarming people who may inspire and remind us all that there is joy in the world.

No matter your job or ability, everyone can brighten the lives of others. My friend Susie sent me this video about an imaginative grocery bagger named Johnny that was so inspirational, I had to share it with everyone here. It is about how one small act of heartfelt service can start a ripple of goodwill.

I have written about Emily Bear, the 7 year old piano prodigy, in an earlier post; she was on Ellen yesterday and played a song she wrote for Ellen's wedding. She said that she called her song "Once Upon a Wish" because Ellen got her wish when she was able to get married. The album of the same name will be released November 25, 2008, but you can order it on her website before the release date. She has written all the compositions on her new album and a portion of all her sales goes to charity.

Maybe the inspirational acts of both Johnny and Emily will make us all think of heartfelt ways to share some joy with others, after all, this is the season to make wishes come true.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Half Price Air to New Orleans

With all the cold weather over the Winter months (except here in Southern California), a nice warm Southern trip is a good idea, and it's even better when it's to New Orleans.

Southwest is having a New Orleans fare sale. If you buy your ticket between November 16, 2008 and November 18, 2008 for travel December 3, 2008 through February 11, 2009, just use the code FLYMSY, and get 50% off your fare! From Los Angeles roundtrip INCLUDING fees and taxes, that works out to $216 per person!

Laissez les bons temps roulez!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Foreign Words or Just Photos

It is inspiring to learn that people around the world all have common bonds, whether through spoken, written, emotional, or visual links. Because I write my blog in English, many of my French speaking friends can't understand my posts, so today's post offers both a multilingual international news source and a photo blog.

Seeing the vision of the world through the other people's eyes is always educational, so here is the link to a multilingual international news site France 24, which features stories about people and places around the globe (when was the last time you saw or read anything from an American news source about anyone or anyplace outside the U.S.?), and a link to a photo blog where there is no need to read (the captions are in French). Reading or looking at the perspectives of people who live a continent away only shows us how we are all citizens of the same world, just living in different neighborhoods.

Let's find more links that bring us together.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Do You Hulu?

For those of us who are not complete couch potatoes, but who also love to watch certain shows, there are several options. Most people these days subscribe to either their local cable or satellite DVR service or use the ubiquitous TiVo. But what if you are in between the old technology of VHS and awaiting to buy your own DVR when the prices go down under $300? Now you no longer have to use your old VCR or pay for a subscription with your cable company to use their DVR.

The solution I use is Hulu; and yes, it is all perfectly legal and FREE. Hulu has most of the popular shows online, from Jon Stewart's Daily Show (and of course the related Colbert Report), to Burn Notice and Lipstick Jungle. They even have classic shows like the Mary Tyler Moore Show and Lost In Space for those of us who feel nostalgic. For kids there is Sesame Street and movies like Liar Liar. Oh, yes, you read that correctly, they also have FREE streaming movies! Full episodes or clips can be sorted by most popular, latest air date, or most highly rated, so if you missed last night's episode, you can watch it here with limited commercials (you can even rate the commercials). An hour show is about 40 minutes on Hulu, so sometimes I actually prefer to watch on Hulu than at the regularly scheduled time (shows are usually available the day after they air).

No matter what your tastes, if there is nothing you want to watch on TV right now, there is probably something you want to watch on Hulu; even if you are just looking for a recipe from Giada on what to cook tonight.

Just be careful that you don't become a computer chair potato.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Freelance Work

There are numerous sites which offer employment, but if you are an independent contractor or want only a short term job, then try Elance, the online resource for freelance workers. Whether your field is web design, programming, sales, legal, engineering, administration, translation, or finance, you can check out the current postings and bid for a contract.

The job bidding process works a bit like Ebay, so the more qualifications you include (verification of your credentials, taking their standardized tests for English proficiency, etc.), the better your profile looks when you bid for a job. For jobs which require stages or time, there are safeguards in place for approvals and revisions so that both employers and freelancers get their needs met within a neutral framework. Money is held in escrow for both parties so if there are any disputes, mediation decides where the funds go based on performance and feedback. It's a bit like hiring from a temporary agency; the job goes to a chosen candidate, but the agency governs the payment to the candidate, so if either the employee or employer does not perform as specified, the agency grants the appropriate party the payments due.

Elance is also great for people who need work done from freelancer; say you want a new logo or someone to do your books while your regular bookkeeper is on maternity leave, Elance will allow you to select a candidate from the bidders without a long term commitment.

In this new economy, it is nice to have options for employment that are flexible and reliable at the same time.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Local Turkey & Stuff

For people who like to plan ahead (like me) for Thanksgiving, this is the time to start ordering the turkey. You can always go to your local mega market and pick up a frozen hormone and antibiotic ridden version, but if you care about the health and taste of the food you ingest, buy your pastured, Heritage, organic bird from Local Harvest. Not only do they specialize in locally farmed products, but they offer great deals for the other Thanksgiving dinner fixings like nuts, cranberries, eggs, cheese, herbs, chocolates, and even the flowers for your table. Even if you just want to get some gifts for the holidays, you can shop here for soaps, books, teas and coffees, fibers like alpaca wool (to knit), and even pet food.

You can choose to shop from your zip code so you get only the suppliers who are near you (diminishing your carbon footprint by buying less food that is flown in from across the country or from another Continent). If you want to lessen your carbon footprint even more, Local Harvest also has a list of your local farmer's markets, co-ops, and grocery stores which stock local produce and meat. If you don't cook, you can check out the restaurants that serve food from local suppliers. For those who truly want a local food experience, buy some seeds from Local Harvest and grow your food at home; that is about as local as you can get!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Public & Private Transit

Although I know the public transit systems for several US cities practically by heart, when I travel outside the cities I know, I am as lost as any tourist to a foreign place. Hopstop helps anyone traveling to New York, San Francisco, Boston, Washington DC, or Chicago to use the local transit systems like a native. With maps of subway and bus systems for every city, this is the transit information center for your metropolitan trips to the most transit friendly cities in the US (Los Angeles is not included in the cities served).

When traveling outside the US, many countries offer superior (to US) public transit systems, but when you are heading to a chateau or a beach far from the other tourists, you must drive (or be driven). Via Michelin has all you need to navigate the roads of 61 countries all over the world, from Albania to Zimababwe and you can get the information sent directly to your GPS (in your choice of miles or kilometers). They even include information on the fees you will pay for tolls and gas.

Now if there was only a way to teach me how to read a map without having to turn it constantly...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wow Hotels

Would you like to stay in an igloo? How about a railway car or a Wigwam? Perhaps a converted library or monastery is more your style. For those of us who love the unusual, there is Unusual Hotels of the World. You can stay in an underground cave, a floating boat, a tree house, a castle, a prison, a plane, or an ice hotel.

You can choose your hotel based on the wow factor, for creative and artistic merit, the sheer outrageousness, or the location or type of trip you desire; impress your partner with a romantic fantasy trip where you stay in an art gallery or a tree house in a rainforest. Staying in a church or a bullring will make your vacation memorable even if you do nothing else during your entire stay.

You may choose according to location, price, type of destrination, or wow factor, so decide what is most important to you, and choose wsiely.

Monday, November 10, 2008

International Reviews

Hopefully everyone knows to check Tripadvisor reviews when traveling anywhere in the US; they have hotel and restaurant reviews from frequent travelers (yes, I have contributed on several occasions) on places all over the United States. But what if your passport is making your palms itch with anticipation of an unusual or faraway destination?

I-Escape is the international equivalent, with reviews of places from Brazil to Vietnam. You can choose a destination by geography or interest, so indulge in Ayurvedic treatments treatments in India, or vacation with the celebrities at Parrot Cay. All the reviews point out the good and the bad of all the properties, so if the pool is too shallow to dive into, or the air conditoning is too loud, you will know before you book. The places reviewed range from the economical (under $100 a night) to the luxurious (over $350 per night), so do some research here and find your (nearly) perfect vacation spot; I think I found mine at Cocoa Beach in the Maldives, see you there!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Languages with Class

People always ask me how I learned to speak French; I always respond that I took lessons for years in school, but it was not until I traveled to French speaking countries that I actually learned to converse in French. (Imagine someone arriving in the US after only reading and speaking from books that taught phrase like "See Jane. See Spot. See Jane and Spot run.") Every language has its' own rhythm, slang, and references that are completely ignored in formalized lessons. After many trips to France, Martinique, St. Bart, Quebec (another kind of French entirely), and of course, Tahiti, I can now say I truly do speak French.

For those who wish to learn sur place, there are courses in Sancerre, France which include some fun vacation outings and treats along with language lessons. Coeur de France Ecole de Langues offers wine and cheese appreciation along with language courses. Imagine taking your courses in a 400 year old mansion in central France's famous wine region, where you can sample locally made cheeses at the farmer's market. You don't have to make a year long commitment; they offer courses from 1-12 weeks long and you can learn as a group, with your family, or as a couple sharing an educational vacation. Prices are very reasonable and you get discounts for the longer you stay and the more people you enroll.

Gather your friends or family together for a fun way to pick up an educational souvenir that will serve you for future trips.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Real Ease

Sometimes the simplest inventions are the most effective; I've been using Dr. Riter's Real Ease cervical support (priced under $30) for years. It suddenly dawned on me today that many people have never seen or heard of it, so I've posted a picture of mine.

It's made for those of you who have sore or stiff shoulders and necks (most commonly caused by sitting in front of a computer too long, or driving too much). It's really simple to use and it helps almost immediately. All you do is lie on the floor (knees up or on a pillow) with this support under your neck for 10-15 minutes. I find that a bed is too soft for this (unless you sleep on a wooden board), and although the instructions say you can use it in a sitting position, I don't feel my neck relaxes fully unless I am lying down on it. Just make sure your neck is not on the white plastic part (it is meant to support your head) and don't fall asleep on it (you might roll off it).

Of course the best remedy for a stiff neck or shoulders is to stop doing whatever causes the condition, but for those of us addicted to computers or driving, this provides some relief as we work towards moderation. Signing off now to go lie on my Real Ease.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tahiti Souvenirs

With the prices of airfares and hotels so high (even with deeply discounted end of the year prices), many people are postponing or shortening their travel plans. Even if we have a trip planned for next year, how do we give ourselves a boost now? With Winter approaching and the chill and gray encroaching, we can all afford to at least look at pictures of the warm tropical places we love. With the holidays around the corner, buying a few calendars can serve the dual purposes of warming your own heart and sharing that warmth with others.

Pacific Promotion offers calendars full of beautiful photographs of all the islands of Tahiti (and of the women if you prefer to look at people rather than scenery). I have been ordering the wall calendars for years because every month is another reminder of the clear waters, green mountains, and white sands of French Polynesia. One of the reasons these are my favorite calendars is that all the days and holidays of Tahiti are noted in English, French, and Tahitian. I recently got a mini pocket agenda, so now I can carry Tahiti with me in my purse. If you prefer other souvenirs, they also offer stationary, posters, coasters, postcards, screen savers, and video.

If you want to give these as gifts, be sure you allow plenty of time; my last purchase took over a month to arrive. All good things are worth waiting for, but if you plan a bit in advance, they will arrive when you need them.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Berry Sweet

Berry Sweet's motto is "Making life a little sweeter..." and the moment I inhaled the plumeria scent, I knew I was in for sensual pleasures. Their products range from solid perfume, shampoo and travel massage bars, to cuticle balms which double as eyebrow tamers. They make a boo-boo balm that is good for pimples, cuts, bug bites, and scratches, and it's a product that you can even use on your canine friends (but not feline ones).

Besides the great products, I love that this company was created by a new mom who sought to make a living at home while raising her children. All the products are made with the highest quality ingredients with a minimal amount of any synthetic stabilizers, and none are ever tested on animals. This is a truly small personal business; products are tested on family first and none are offered for sale unless they pass the family's scrutiny.

The headquarters is in Honolulu, and Berry Sweet says that they put the "Ahhh" in Aloha; once you sink into a tub of their Plumeria bath salts, you will probably agree.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Angels in Waiting

~We Are All Angels With Only One Wing And We Can Only Fly By Embracing One Another ~

The foundation Angels in Waiting was created to provide care for medically fragile preemies, infants and children. Linda Conforti is a nurse who started to care for these precious beings in her home; she quickly saw that she could not take care of every one who needed care and began a foundation to bring them into residences with licensed and registered nurses who would provide medical care for them as their foster parents. Linda has a deep understanding of what is needed and knows how this foundation can impact and change countless childhoods across America.

Angels in Waiting has been given a top placement on Global Giving, the world's largest online philanthropy and donation site. One of Global Giving’s criteria to obtain a permanent position on their site is to have 75 unique donors donating to Angels in Waiting by November 21, or they will lose this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Donate (even $10 would be greatly appreciated) to help Linda in achieving her goal to save countless childhoods; we will all fly higher when we embrace one another.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bellagio 3 for 2

Although I love the Wynn is Las Vegas, I also like the Bellagio, and I got an offer that makes it worth your while if you want to stay at the home of the fountain and atrium attractions. If you book before January 6, 2009 you can get three nights for the price of two. Just call them at 866-453-7117 and give them code 3N169C or go to their website. The deluxe room rate starts at only $169 a night, so if you take advantage of their offer, your room rate goes down to $112.67 a night!

One of my favorite things about the Bellagio is the in room synchronized music to every fountain show; be sure to tune in to the fountain channel when you are in your room when you watch the fountains. My favorite is the the 8pm show of Andrea Bocelli singing "Time to Say Goodbye"; it was the first fountain show I saw, and like all great loves, you always remember your first.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Schwab Bank

Almost everyone has heard of the brokerage firm, Charles Schwab, but it wasn't until recently that I learned about their banking services. They offer MORE services than most other banks when it comes to their High Yield Investor Checking Account. The banks are learning that nickel and diming customers keeps them away; free services that add value to a checking account goes a long way to getting and keeping the cash reserves that they want.

Not only do you earn more than in a money market account (currently the yield is 1.75%), but you also get FREE checks, FREE ATM usage worldwide (they reimburse you for any fees), FREE bill pay, a FREE Visa check card, overdraft protection, FDIC insured balances (up to $250,00 until then end of 2009), NO minimum deposit and NO service fees. They send you postage free envelopes so you can mail in your deposits, or you can set up a recurring deposit from a linked checking account.

Nothing is perfect; the only annoyance I have found with their service is that they are still working on an online link so you can transfer money into or out of your account from an outside bank. Until the beginning of 2009, you must call them to make an outside bank transfer of funds, but the nice thing is that in spite of this annoyance, they will credit you immediately for the transfer and you start earning interest on your deposits the day you make the call.

It is in your interest to save your nickels and dimes so you can watch them grow into dollars by putting your money into fee-free checking.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Free E-Waste Disposal

We may love to take advantage of all the technological upgrades available, but what do we do with all our old stuff? Many communities will fine you for dumping electronic waste like old computer monitors and televisions, so unless you pay someone to haul away your bulky monitors and old analog televisions, you are stuck with them.

If you live in or near Los Angeles, there is a company called E Waste Center Inc. which will come pick up your old tv and/or monitors for FREE and dispose of them properly, recycling any parts that can be recycled. They also help charities by collecting everything electronic from old PDA's to playstations for a specific cause. If you want to drop off your old electronic waste, they also have a drop off location, so go clean out your desks and drawers, and drop the load off knowing you are being green as you clean out your clutter.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Erase Hate & Build a Company

Love & Pride sells a pendant that says "Erase Hate" ; all the proceeds go to the Matthew Shepard Foundation which supports diversity programs in schools and organizations so all children can be themselves and feel safe. It costs only $59 for the simplest titanium version (they offer deluxe versions made with diamonds and gold) and 100% of the proceeds go to the foundation.

What would you do if you could build a company for $25? Kiva does that by making a loan to the world's working poor. With a 98% percent repayment rate, this is one smart investment in today's economy of uncertainty. Unlike the deals made by some banks and investment companies to people with no vested interest in the value of the collateral, these loans are made to build businesses in the communities where the money is invested; the best business oversight is a small community. It is rewarding to know that you can finance the growth of a business that will become self-sustaining; it's like buying a fishing pole for someone to fish so they will not go hungry.

A diverse safe world full of entrepreneurs is possible if all of us help to build it.